Soot in the flues

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We can tell that the annual 'show season' is upon us, as we haven't heard from as many of our correspondents this month. This usually means that folks are either getting ready for the shows, or actually participating in them. However, we have heard from of a few of you, and we will start off the issue with an anecdote from long ago.

We have this interesting bridge crossing story from LEE E. WEHRS, 205 S. Sunset Hills Drive, Apt. 116, Concordia, Missouri 64020:

A Risky Bridge Crossing By Steam Engine

It must have been on a warm, early July Saturday morning that my dad, Martin Wehrs, left Emma, Missouri, a mid-central Missouri village divided by the Lafayette-Saline County line, and drove out to my Uncle Lorenz Meyer's farm. The farm was located about three miles southeast of Emma on the Black water River.

As we were driving along, I reminded myself every now and then not to reveal a secret that I was a party to. If I remember rightly, I was only about eleven years of age.

The secret was that Uncle Lorenz was going to fire up the big threshing machine steam engine and move it across the Black water River bridge, probably against the advice of his neighbors, and definitely against the warnings of his wife, my Aunt Bertha.

The bridge referred to was a wooden plank floor type, with lots of metal super structure. One thing that made this trip more treacherous was that the bridge stood unusually high over the river bed. On the far side of the bridge, the dirt road dropped sharply downward into the willow tree studded bottom.

Without knowing what was going to take place, my dad's sister readied her shopping list and headed to Sweet Springs, Missouri, to do the Saturday shopping.

Shortly after her departure, that big, dark behemoth of a steam engine was fired up and prepared for the short trip to the bridge a mile or so away.

At this point I must explain why this special crossing was planned. The first threshing job of the season was about three miles or so from Uncle's farm, by way of the bridge. The only alternative route was to travel some fifteen miles or so on other roads which may not have been safe enough, either. Anyhow, the engine approached the bridge from the north on level ground.

I stood on the south end of the bridge taking in the scene, wide-eyed and probably whispering a prayer for Uncle Lorenz, my favorite uncle.

As the main weight of the engine got on the planks, there was considerable groaning noise, and the flat steel made loud slapping sounds as though it was protesting the whole deal.

I was prepared at this time to hear the worst and see Uncle Lorenz crashing down with the engine and girders into the creek bottom. Praise the Lord the crossing was successful.

In telling this story to an old timer at an engine show, how the planks groaned, and the steel slapped and strained, guess what he said? 'Oh, that was good!' Mentally I retreated and said, 'How could that be?' He said the groaning and clanking was a sign that the bridge was accepting and distributing the weight where it was the least stressful. After a bit I said to myself, 'I'll bet he was right.'

To conclude this story, I don't recall how Aunt Bertha reacted when she returned from the shopping trip, but I am sure the engine tracks plainly told her what had transpired.

Caswell's Gasoline Tractor Thresher: The above illustration represents a complete threshing outfit consisting of gasoline engine and thresher combined. It is the invention of Caswell Brothers, Cherokee, Iowa, manufacturers of the adjustable belt guide. The advantages claimed by the inventors are that it is self-propelling, can be placed in motion as a traction propeller almost while you are putting on the belt of an ordinary thresher, and is a great saving in the cost of operation, doing away with the water boy and team as well as engineer. The above machine has been successfully operated both as tractor and thresher and is equipped with a four-cylinder, 45 horsepower marine gasoline engine.

My dad and Uncle Lorenz did custom threshing for several years and I was privileged to go along many times. It is no wonder that I enjoy being around steam engines at engine shows and will become an old timer, also.

This month we have heard from HERBERT KULENKAMP, 329 Geneva Ave. #219, Oakdale, Minnesota 55128 who says, 'There was a sawmill in Warren, Arkansas 71671, some years ago, which had a steam engine with a 26 foot diameter flywheel. I would like to see a picture or blueprint of the engine. The mill is run by electric now, but I'm sure somebody could come up with information on such an unusual engine, maybe the patent office.

'The company's new owners are Potlatch Inc. I would like to describe this, but can't write good anymore.

'There are other engines which would be of great interest to steam enthusiasts. The steam engine running the cotton gin in Cooter, Missouri, for example. The engines with the unique slide valve linkage in river paddle-wheeler boats. Also, many steam engine pumping engines special built for various purposes,

The Cook Auto Threshing Outfit: The above represents cook's auto-thresher, consisting of threshing machine and gasoline traction engine combined. Herman Cook, the inventor, Sioux City, Iowa, will tell you all about it. For full particulars address the manufacturers, Caswell Brothers, Cherokee, Iowa.

'Hope you will look into this and preserve some of the past before it is lost.'

CARLTON JOHNSON of 2256 W. Wilson Road, Clio, Michigan 48420 sent us two pictures and this note, 'The two pictures are of self propelled threshers that were built in 1908 and shown in the American Thresher man of that time. Then later, in 1910, the Sageng thresher, self-propelled, was shown, but none caught on and no more were built, as far as 1 know.

'The Sageng was built new from the ground up, and the other two were regular separators changed over.'

Note, the captions are the ones which originally appeared with the pictures in American Thresher man.

Harold Holp's 20 HP Advance engine at the 2000 Darke County Steam Threshers Association, Inc. reunion. Kevin Holp is on the engine.

Well, we have come to the end of the column for this month, but there is lots to read in the rest of the magazine! Remember to think of us as you attend the shows this summeras we'll be looking for your news in the fall.

You might want to look in the back of this issue at our advertisements there are several new books of interest to steam collectors!

Steamcerely, Linda and Gail